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BEWell art competition invites students and staff to connect climate change, health

Fifteen winners of the BEWell art contest can have their art displayed on traffic signal control cabinets and on the piano outside the John Wooden Center. (Mia Kayser/Daily Bruin staff)

By Kaelyn Shurtz

Feb. 27, 2020 1:38 a.m.

UCLA’s outdoor piano by the John Wooden Center will soon have a new look.

An art competition hosted by one of the initiatives within the Semel Healthy Campus Initiative, the BEWell pod, plans to decorate traffic signal control cabinets in Westwood and a piano on campus with artwork submitted by UCLA students and employees.

Participants are required to incorporate themes of climate change, health and well-being into their designs. The deadline for submissions was recently extended to March 26.

One of the people instrumental to the competition has been Jeremy Barrett, a UCLA alumnus who began the UCLA Piano Project in May 2017.

The Piano Project placed pianos in different locations across UCLA’s campus, including outside JWC and Covel Commons, and encourages students to utilize them. Barrett began work on the project after proposing it in Chancellor Gene Block’s office hours.

Originally, the competition planned to showcase art only on traffic cabinets. However, Barrett, who has been collaborating with HCI since the organization funded his Piano Project, pushed to raise awareness by including a piano in the competition. He hopes adding the artwork to the piano will not only draw attention to the piano itself, but also to the Piano Project, he said.

The Piano Project hopes to bring more pianos to campus during spring quarter, Barrett said.

“The Piano Project is all about making people’s walk to class maybe a little bit brighter,” he said. “When there’s people who are just glued to their cell phones, we hope that people will just be present on campus, and it’s a beautiful campus.”

The art contest is open to all UCLA students and employees, said Sol Dressa, an environmental health sciences graduate student and a BEWell graduate student researcher.

The art of the contest’s 15 winners will be printed on vinyl material and displayed once chosen.

Prizes for contest winners also include a gift basket and $75 gift cards, in addition to having their work shown in Westwood.

The contest not only allows people to get creative, but also showcases how climate change affects people’s health and overall well-being, Dressa said.

“We created this contest to spread the word about the importance of understanding the link between climate change and health,” Dressa said.

Mark Biedlingmaier, a special projects coordinator at HCI, said the contest highlights the need to make climate change more visible. Climate change is a hot topic right now in terms of politics, but it is also important culturally, he said.

HCI at UCLA is trying to bring students, staff and faculty together to work on projects that will create a healthier environment on campus, Biedlingmaier added.

“We know that there are other students out there who have very creative ideas and we love empowering students, staff, faculty here,” said Biedlingmaier. “Let’s create some more magic.”

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